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  1. #1
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    Short stem and Long Stem, Advantage disadvantage?

    Of course purpose of having shorter stem or longer stem is for the correct bike fit.

    But does having a shorter stem or longer make any difference in riding performance other than bike fit?

    Thanks in advance for your replies.

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    No difference.
    FOR SALE:
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    Senior Member Fox Farm's Avatar
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    Unlike mountain bikes, stems on road bikes seem to have less noticeable affect on handling.

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    Behind EVERYone!!! baj32161's Avatar
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    I've gone from 120mm to 90mm and I didn't really notice any difference ih bike handling. I was trying to find a level of comfort, which is what I thought stem length was all about.

    Cheers,

    Brian J.
    A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.

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  5. #5
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.

    Now, tell me why road sprinters like Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?

  6. #6
    RidingLikeCrazy! rangerdavid's Avatar
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    what about flipping the stem, as I've read about on here. What's that all about? What exactly does that accomplish?

    (not meaning to hijack, I can start a new thread if necessary)

    RD

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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.

    Now, tell me why road sprinters like Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?
    I agree - shorter stem makes more twitchy, especially on fast decents.
    Besides, all the best riders in my area ride 120 - 130 stems. They just look cooler

  8. #8
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangerdavid View Post
    what about flipping the stem, as I've read about on here. What's that all about? What exactly does that accomplish?

    (not meaning to hijack, I can start a new thread if necessary)

    RD
    Changes the bar height and to a small extent, bar reach. For sizing purposes.

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    How do I go about choosing a longer stem if I want to get a more aggressive fit? Should I just go 10mm longer?

  10. #10
    bt
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.
    this

  11. #11
    Balls exhibitx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?
    most pros use long stems because the headtubes on their bikes are too tall, so they use a long stem to give them the proper position, or they have gone down a size to get a proper headtube size and they need a longer stem to compensate

  12. #12
    stole your bike roadiejorge's Avatar
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    I've found the length of the stem does affect handling, the shorter being a bit more lively than a longer one. More importantly I prefer a longer stem for out of the saddle efforts as I can lean forward more.
    I like pie

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    bt
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    Quote Originally Posted by thirdin77 View Post
    No difference.
    not this

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cycho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notwist View Post
    How do I go about choosing a longer stem if I want to get a more aggressive fit? Should I just go 10mm longer?
    Typically, you would go 20mm (2 cm) longer/shorter. 10mm (1cm) won't make that much of a different. However, be careful as you can affect your reach and therefore comfort on the bike. If your stem is currently "un-flipped", i.e. the angle of the stem (if your stem has a rise to it) is pointing up, then "flipping" it, or turning it upside down so that the angle points down, might give you the more aggressive posture you want without affecting your reach. If you stem has 0 degrees of rise, then flipping it won't make a difference.

    I just "un-flipped" my stem because I felt the reach was long and I wanted a more upright position. My 110mm stem only has a 6 degree rise so the difference was not much different.
    I was laying in bed staring at the stars wondering where the heck is my ceiling?

  15. #15
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bt View Post
    not this
    Consistently claimed, but never claimed convincingly.

    It's really hard to find a stem shorter than 80mm to fit most road bars, and even 80mm is pretty hard to find. Handling should be fine. Folks raced with much shorter stems back in the day. No problems were had.

  16. #16
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    If you want to try a different stem:

    1. Have a good relationship with a good LBS in the area. This applies for pretty much anyone, in general, so you always have a place to go.

    I'd term "Good relationship" as you are friendly, buy stuff semi-regularly (focus on smaller high margin things, not looking at blow out bikes where the shop is just trying to recoup costs), drop in every now and then, and if they have group rides, you go on a couple of them.

    2. Once you have a good relationship with the shop, ask about stems. If they're really nice they may let you look at their (non-priced) catalog, or give you a run down on what they can get.

    3. Ask to borrow 3-4-5 or more stems, lengths varying by 1-3 cm from your current stem, different angles, even different materials. Any semi-established shop will have a number of take-off stems. This is where you'll start learning of clamp diameters and stem angles. Let the LBS show you - it's easy to see what a 73 vs 80 vs 90 deg stem is when you're holding them in your hands.

    4. Choose a size/angle and order/buy the stem you want from the LBS.

    5. If you decide to repeat the process, now you know what you need to do. Buy the stem where ever.

    The last stem I bought was for the tandem. I knew exactly what size/angle I wanted but not the brand/material/etc, decided I wanted to use this opportunity to help build my relationship with the local shop, and paid full retail on the stem (at my insistence). I believe that the shop made $60 on me, which I thought was reasonable, minus shipping, the time it took to talk about stems (not much), the time they let me tap away at their computer to find the stem (probably 15 minutes), and the resulting time of me looking at other things (another 15-30 minutes). I figure $65/hour is about what they need/should make on me.

    cdr

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    Consistently claimed, but never claimed convincingly.
    Well, I've convinced myself, anyway, and I've experimented a lot with stem length. That said, stem length doesn't always affect handling. I have one bike where I really can't tell any handling difference with different length stems, whereas my Serotta handles like a pig in crosswinds with a 90mm stem but is noticeably better with 100mm.
    Last edited by scirocco; 08-07-09 at 08:28 AM.

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